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At Cognizant, we celebrate diversity & inclusion across our workforce, in our communities and in our partnerships.
Cognizant CFO Jan Siegmund has been out at work since 1996. Here he speaks about being an openly gay leader in the technology industry, why D&I is a source of strength and credibility, and how the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ team is leading on these issues. Learn more about the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One team and our partnership with Aston Martin here.
Watch Cognizant Principal IoT Strategy Consultant Dana Anderson speak about her love of motorsports, her hopes for the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One team and how Cognizant’s culture has helped her thrive. Learn more about the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One team and our partnership with Aston Martin here.
In a post COVID-19 world, it’s more important than ever for businesses to give employees a sense of belonging whether they’re in an office or not. Feeling like you belong at work is about four things: feeling welcomed, valued, included and connected.LEARN MORE
Explore our shared dedication to increasing opportunities for women in leadership, technology and golf with Cognizant VP & Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Shameka Young.PLAY VIDEO
Cognizant is committed to supporting gender diversity across the workplace, leveling the playing field for women in tech careers around the world. We are proud of our ongoing progress. Learn why Forbes had named Cognizant to its list of “America’s Best Employers for Diversity 2019.”VIEW INFOGRAPHIC
Collaborator and problem solver
“When our projects
go live and end users
have access to
new technologies that
make their lives easier,
I couldn’t be happier.”
Discovering how much I like working with people was a surprise to me. As engagement lead for a medical devices manufacturer, I oversee a project portfolio that cuts across diverse technologies, from productivity improvement, manufacturing execution transformation (MES) to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) consolidation and smart manufacturing. User experience is a big part of what our team delivers, and when our projects go live and end users have access to new technologies that make their lives easier, I couldn’t be happier.
The best part of my job? Collaboration with internal and client stakeholders for problem solving and solutioning. My expertise in Oracle and Microsoft products are my core strengths, and I work closely with client teams to figure out how best to support their work and their investments.
Cognizant has given me a platform to learn the business and to identify my real passion for exploring new ideas and technologies.
Striking the right balance
“We’re showing that
women can do
cool jobs like
and they can do them
really, really well.”
Balance and opportunity are important to me. I almost didn’t apply for my first job here at Advanced Technology Group because the job description seemed daunting. But then the recruiter who turned me down for an administrative job I’d applied for at another company offered me what she called unsolicited advice: “You need to go for something harder.”
I valued her feedback. (OK, maybe not initially.) So I aimed higher and went for the ATG job. I figured, what do I have to lose? I went for the opportunity.
My work at Cognizant is about balance in several areas because a big part of what I do is to cultivate teams that work. As Director of Application Support, I make sure our clients and teams have everything they need. I also participate in recruiting to ensure we have the right mix of talent.
Through our women’s affinity group, we encourage and promote equality, with a focus on women in technology. We’re showing that women can do cool jobs like development and data engineering, and they can do them really, really well.
With more outreach to women, we’ve struck a much healthier hiring balance as a company. I’m a firm believer that if it’s awkward, it’s worth talking about. We’ve had those hard conversations about meeting dynamics and how women can potentially get talked over. We’ve talked about “mansplaining”. A couple of our male counterparts have said, “I think I do that.” The conversations have led to a permanent shift in how we work together.
Communicate and resonate
“The closeness that
we have cultivated
in the book club helps
me develop a sensitive
ear for inclusive language
and has made me a
I began reading books on women in business when I joined Cognizant. I wanted to know my colleagues’ thoughts on the stories and strategies I’d been reading about. Had they tried these approaches? How did it go for them? As it turned out, my colleagues shared a desire to discuss books featuring women and business. We started the Women Empowered book club, and four years later, we still meet every other month—dialing in from all over the world.
We started with beloved standards, like Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. Then we expanded, inviting colleagues of all genders to read Athena Rising, which catalyzed discussions about men supporting women and actively contributing to gender equality at work. We transitioned to addressing family life and race, and watched Kimberlé Crenshaw’s TEDwomen talk, The Urgency of Intersectionality. Openly discussing multiple aspects of our identities—seen and unseen—allowed us to examine how we are treated at work and, how we can better support one another. Members of this book club create opportunities for each other, promote each other’s good work to leadership and call on each other for help. Our book club has fostered a community invested in empowering women to accomplish their goals.
Lessons from the book club compliment my communications work, particularly when I assess how my work will resonate with an audience. Ensuring that all women have opportunities to achieve big things requires vulnerability and closeness. The closeness that we have cultivated in the book club helps me develop a sensitive ear for inclusive language and has made me a stronger communicator.
Voice for diversity and equality
“I see the value of diversity
firsthand through my work
on the leadership team
and in planning strategy.”
My commitment to diversity and inclusion is personal and professional. When I first applied for a job opening at an IT company, the team leader said he was reluctant to hire me because I was a woman. After I’d been there three months, he told me my work had changed his mind.
I decided he wasn’t the only one with these stereotypes of women working in technology.
Riga TechGirls is a way for me to help other women. It’s a nongovernmental organization that promotes IT opportunities for women, and I volunteer as the community manager. We hold hands-on workshops for newcomers, no experience needed, on topics like chatbots and IoS and Android programming. We also host inspirational meetups and invite women speakers to share their success stories. We’re growing fast, and last year organized Latvia’s first-ever Women in Tech conference. This year, we hosted a hackathon for girls, another first here in Latvia.
As a business development manager here at the Cognizant Latvia delivery center, I see the value of diversity firsthand through my work on the leadership team and in planning our center’s overall strategy. Diversity brings business benefits that a lot of people aren’t aware of, so I also spread the message at the corporate level. At last year’s Riga Comm conference, I spoke before 150 people and advocated for diversity and the value it brings to organizations. People came up to me after the session and thanked me for bringing another angle in.
Advocate for change
“I love nothing more than
seeing folks on our team grow,
helping them to find their groove.”
For me, the most rewarding aspects of my work fall into two categories. I’m in sales, so I take great pride in not just winning deals but also solving a problem for the customer. When we close the business and hear the feedback that customers are beyond pleased, that’s important to me.
I also love nothing more than seeing folks on our team grow, helping them to find their groove. I mentor informally, and at any given time I’m working with two or three folks on their career development. I like to think I’m a big-heart guy: If someone has a big heart and works hard, I have a soft spot for that. I want to advocate for them. Sometimes folks can get lost in a big company, and when I see that, I try to help them, fight for them.
Advocacy on a broader scale has become an increasingly important part of what I do. I’ve never understood why a white man is perceived as better than a person of color, or a gay man, or a woman. So I’ve been working hard to invite more women and minorities to speak at events. I’ve also solicited participation from our clients for our diversity and inclusion events, like the one recently held in New York. It’s a great way to connect with clients on a more personal level. Having these important conversations has deepened my interactions with clients.
We all struggle sometimes with the question of what one person can do. But if each of us does the right thing, and our clients are doing the right thing, then together we can make a difference over the next generation. And maybe even sooner. This has never been more important than now, as we are on the brink of real change.
Building a welcoming environment
“If I can truly understand
customers' needs and add
a softer touch in terms of
encouragement to my team,
it makes a huge difference.”
I manage Quality Engineering teams in Boston, Toronto, Buenos Aires, Kolkata, Kochi, Bangalore and Chennai. What I like best about my work is that there’s no room for complacency. Technology is changing so fast. It’s like fixing a car while the engine is running. My mission is to help clients build great organizations by focusing on people, process, and technology. When my customer feels they’re in good hands, it makes my day.
We spend a lot of time as a team ideating and exploring new ideas in hyper-automation and full-stack quality engineering. The real value is in the team, and in our collaboration. When I joined Cognizant right out of college, one of my managers said, “Happy people do quality work, so I want you to be happy.” As I’ve grown, I’ve realized that extends to the people around me. If I can truly understand customers’ needs and add a softer touch in terms of encouragement to my team, it makes a huge difference. I want everyone on the team to feel safe and supported, and free to share their ideas without feeling judged. I truly believe that building psychologically safe teams, organically produces high performing teams!
Even when I’m not at work, I like to stay busy. I like my days to be packed. Music is my passion. I love listening to music and I practice violin and drums.
“I like change, and
I like driving change.”
I have a coaching approach to leadership, and it’s what I think about every day when I get up. How do I motivate people and teach them to be more influential?
We’re not successful at a client if only one person has mindshare. Our work is about building relationships and mindshare on a broader scale: Everyone who interfaces with the client has to show passion, capability and creative ideas. So I spend 50% of my day teaching, coaching and mentoring. Most of my teaching moments aren’t about IT but about how we could have done it differently. It’s all about learning.
I like change, and I like driving change. When I look at a client in distress or a stabilization situation, I see it as a qualified opportunity. I look for the potential beyond the initial issue to be solved.
In adversity, you get opportunity. That’s been a cornerstone of my life. I started out as a chemical engineer and wound up in aerospace. From there I moved on to running supply chains and eventually managed large programs. In each case, I needed to figure out how to leverage a different set of skills.
Now I apply those same problem-solving skills in my work as a consultant. The long and short is, very often in life we’re given opportunities, and if we’re not afraid to fail, we see there’s something we can learn.
“From the junior programmers
to the leadership team,
everyone deserves recognition
for our project’s success.”
I started working in healthcare early in my career and really liked the opportunity to make a difference and work to better people’s health. It’s an industry in constant change and in need of improvement, and technology innovation has so much to offer.
Most of my work is on the payer side, helping insurers with business transformation. The work is about increasing the business value a company delivers by enhancing business processes enabled by technology solutions. I manage large business transformation projects—the one I manage now has 150 team members. I put a big emphasis on being inclusive and transparent, and on communication and sharing information.
Making sure we get people connected to each other gives the project leadership team the end-to-end oversight that’s so important for large projects like this one. It’s an overused word, but it’s so true that leadership is about empowering teams to do their jobs and be successful.
Our project has been successful because we’ve had a great team. From junior programmers to leadership, everyone deserves recognition for our project’s success. We couldn’t have achieved all that we did without everyone on the team. I feel blessed to have a great team and set of leaders to work with.
Achieving results and delivering for the client is what gets me excited. Being able to say at the end of the day that our team delivered value for the client and achieved something significant is a great feeling.
Partnering with clients and communities
“Leading volunteer initiatives
has been as fulfilling
as my current role.”
My unorthodox journey began with nearly two decades as a high school English teacher in India before I meandered my way to graduate school in the US and then morphed into a technology career as a Business Analyst and Scrum Master. I’ve thrived amid emerging and disruptive technologies, and teams that transcend geographies.
There are many parallels between teaching and industry. For me, an important one is that both offer opportunities to give back to the communities we live in. I’ve organized more than 100 events in my region for Cognizant, and I can say that the STEM initiatives have helped me keep my connection with teaching and mentoring. Outreach events feed my soul.
For me, leading volunteer initiatives is as fulfilling as my work. My interactions with nonprofits helped me better understand the needs and challenges of the community we live in. Through the local chapter of Women Empowered (WE), we focus on issues that matter most to women, whether it’s mentoring girl students at a local high school or raising funds to support organizations that focus on women’s health. Most important, by collaborating with clients on STEM, Outreach and WE events, we reinforce our relationships with them and forge great partnerships.
Advocate for equality
“I’m able to do things
within this role that I’m
personally as well as
As a field marketer, I see awareness of diversity issues as an important part of my work. We’ve created a lot of programming for Diversity & Inclusion summits with our Women Empowered team, and we’ve worked hard to reach out and include decision-makers at our clients. The energy we get from clients at these events has been great. It’s an immediate connect.
From a personal point of view, I was raised by a single mom who instilled in our family that life changes, that girls should have their own careers and money, and that they should own their own identities. My mom taught us that you can have a career and raise a family. That was a game-changer for me.
Now, with four kids of my own—including three girls—I’ve been involved in the Title 9 effort in our school district. Facility management & resouces for girls and boys are totally different. I’ve become passionate about equal opportunity in sports, and that’s really empowered my kids. While in college, my son and older daughters have become strong advocates for diversity and inclusion among student athletes.
Awareness is a huge component of D&I. I’m proud that within Cognizant I’ve been able to influence our business unit’s support of D&I and elevate awareness of issues that are important to us and our clients.
In June 2019, Cathy completed Propel, Cognizant’s new leadership development program for women.
She received the 2019 North Star Advocate Award from the Greater Texas chapter of Women in Cable Telecommunications.
Putting people at the center
“I’ve taken an
unconventional path to get
here, and my background
helps me connect the dots
in our work.”
Believe it or not, my undergraduate degree is in physical therapy. My clinical rotation included administration, and the area of health records and claims caught my interest, so I switched out of PT and went for a master’s degree in healthcare administration.
I’m a program manager leading digital transformation initiatives for a pharmaceutical client. I’ve taken an unconventional path to get here, and my background helps me connect the dots in our work: The more we know about the people using our systems, the better we can create solutions that drive value. The best part of my job? I feel good about the level of responsibility that’s been given to me and about our team’s contributions to making patients’ lives better.
Women’s workplace issues have always mattered to me. As women, we sometimes hold ourselves back. It’s important for us to come out and break free and be able to perform our best. I do a lot of work with the Women Empowered initiative. Here in Chicago, we surveyed our colleagues and have hosted different events based on the results, including yoga and spirituality sessions, happy hours and annual events with women leaders.
Giving back outside the workspace also matters. Getting to know each other makes such a big difference. Cognizant Outreach lets us get together to volunteer in different ways: making meals for the homeless, painting schools. We encourage employees to make volunteering a family affair by bringing their spouses and kids. It’s so positive. I see a lot of smiling faces. It’s one Cognizant.
Supriya received the 2018 Outstanding Global Volunteer award from Cognizant’s Global Outreach program.
Connecting people, building community
“Bottom line, what I feel most proud of
at Cognizant is my ability to influence
the organization and drive results.”
I was active duty Air Force for four years, and it was a significant experience for me. It helped me better understand how teams work, and I found a level of acceptance I had never experienced before. Now, a big part of my job is bringing that same feeling of community to Cognizant.
I have multiple roles within HR: I’m the HR Lead for the Regional Digital Hubs and oversee how the company engages with talent. For the U.S., I also lead Onboarding and Campus Recruiting.
Each role has the same takeaway. It’s about building community by connecting people and helping them understand their role in the company. It’s about helping employees discover how they can make an impact.
I also lead our Affirmative Action program and am actively engaged with our Business Resource Groups. I’ve been with Cognizant for 10 years and can see these groups are having a positive impact.
What’s most meaningful for me is to engage with employees. New talent and current talent—that’s what drives me. My goal is to empower people, helping facilitate their communication with each other and ultimately enabling their growth within the company.
Bottom line, what I feel most proud of at Cognizant is my ability to influence the organization and drive results. What I love about this company is the commitment and passion of the employees, and the fact that people are mutually supportive of each other.
What do I do for fun? I love working on my cars, and I spend as much time as I can outdoors. I live in San Marcos, Texas, but I was born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico. I have a house in upstate New York with two acres of land, a beehive and a vegetable garden. For me, that’s therapy.
Cool technologies, new horizons
“Curiosity drives my work.”
I jumped at the chance to join the blockchain team. A colleague had told me about the work that the team was doing, and the idea of being at the forefront of this new technology sounded fascinating. When the opportunity came up, I went for it.
It’s an exciting time for blockchain. The technology is maturing quickly, as is our clients understanding of what it can do for them.
The biggest change I’ve seen since I joined the team two years ago: The industry is moving from education and experimentation to real-world production solutions. It’s exciting to find likeminded collaborators in our clients, who are as passionate about this technology as we are. Together, we can envision the art of the possible, cutting through the hype and bringing cutting-edge ideas to life.
The best part of my job is that as the technology evolves, there is constantly more for me to learn and appreciate. And I get to pass that knowledge along to our clients, helping them navigate the complexities of their blockchain journey.
The same curiosity that drives my work applies to my personal life. I like to travel and explore new places. I love to learn about new cultures, especially through local food. Japan is amazing and delicious. Croatia is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Next, I’m going on a road trip through Portugal.
Shaping the future of work
“There’s inherent tension at the intersection of
technology and humanity. I’ve found that
tension to be where the opportunity lies.”
There are few instances in which one has a chance to shape the future. Fewer still are the companies that give their employees space and resources for such endeavors. At the Center for the Future of Work, my role is similar to that of an analyst—examining industry trends, generating thought leadership and helping clients implement new ideas and strategies.
Through my work I get to inspire and inform business leaders, policy writers and any other citizens with the desire to actively shape our future at the intersection of technology and humanity. There is inherent tension at that intersection, and the tension is where opportunity for innovation lies.
I started my career in digital strategy, while moonlighting as a radio DJ in Atlanta. Given that the city is such a major media market and hotbed for hip hop, I had a significant platform at a young age. Having such a prominent platform taught me the importance of rigorous preparation and fully engaging my audience. That experience shaped how I approach the work I do now as a consultant and how I present ideas to my new audience in boardrooms and on conference calls.
Shortly after joining Cognizant, I cofounded our African American & Latinx Business Resource Group (AALG) with an eye on the future. This group helps cultivate the relationships that make us all better consultants. Our clients are increasingly diverse and it’s critical that we have people who look like them and have lived lives like them. AALG is also an opportunity for me to give back, to make sure under-represented minorities in tech find their own voices.
Forging a different path
“It’s been a long and winding road to
where I am now. My work today in
diversity and inclusion is the payoff.”
Two years ago, I took the lead marketing role for our Women Empowered initiative. Now, as part of the marketing team for diversity and inclusion, I love the fact that my role has broadened. Being a woman, being African American, I now have the opportunity to help raise the profiles of other groups within Cognizant.
I’ve taken a nontraditional route to get here. When my career in architecture turned out to be more about construction than design, I took inspiration from my mom: A year after she went back to school to get her MBA, I did the same. But while my B-school classmates focused on finance and economics, I studied marketing. I started with software marketing, completed a special project with the Dallas Museum of Art, and then ended up at Cognizant, where I marketed IT and consulting services to the retail, consumer goods, and travel and hospitality industries before transitioning to Women Empowered and then to D&I.
My love of travel has also helped to shape me. When I was an undergrad at the University of Virginia, I did a semester abroad in Ghana. Experiencing Ghana definitely changed me. It’s a totally different, non-Western culture that opened my eyes to different people, foods, experiences and ideas. It also gave me the travel bug. I spent a semester in Paris during graduate school, and last year I traveled to Peru with family—hopefully passing the travel bug onto my son as he experienced new cultures.
In many ways, it’s been a long and winding road to where I am now, but my work today in diversity and inclusion is the payoff.
Builder of bridges
“We all need to be vigilant and care
about each other. There are always
others we should put our hand out to.”
It’s probably no surprise that after attending a conservative, 500-year-old high school (think Downton Abbey), I blossomed when I was let loose at university. I spent a lot of time in politics and drama. Exploring different ideas. Oxford was a very supportive environment. It gave me a chance to find my moral compass and explore what was important to me. Queer theory. The role of LBGT in society. It helped me understand who I am.
I started my law career at a traditional firm. I made a lot of sacrifices in terms of hiding who I was and my sexuality. A big white-shoe law firm wasn’t the place to talk about that. I had gone from being a campus activist to putting myself into a suit, literally and metaphorically.
When I interviewed with Cognizant associates 11 years ago, there was such a human side to the people I met. We do things by consensus here, and we believe in each other. It’s about doing the job well and doing it with integrity. That message continues to be present.
I’m grateful the world has moved on in many ways. But it’s important to not be complacent regarding social injustice. It’s important we remember things can change very quickly. We all need to be vigilant and care about each other. There are always others we should put our hand out to.
Leader and veteran
“I’m interested in coaching and
mentoring and fixing the obstacles
that create the problems we’re
trying to solve.”
I proudly served four years in the Air Force as an air traffic controller. It’s one of the most stressful jobs imaginable. In addition to being responsible for billion-dollar aircraft, you have the responsibility for a lot of lives in your hands. After I left the military and went to college, my first entry-level job in the communications industry was an outside plant technician for Pacific Bell. I installed a variety of communication services in customer’s homes and businesses.
Different experiences, but those early days in my career are invaluable to me as a leader: They help me to understand what all levels of an organization go through. They’ve given me the compassion to make sure we run effectively and that we all share the same aspirations.
Here at Cognizant, I work on some of the largest accounts for our Communications practice. My job is about partnering with clients to constantly drive innovative ideas, provide leadership and work with people on the internal side.
As part of my work, I’m interested in coaching, mentoring and fixing the obstacles that create the problems we’re trying to solve. I typically take on high-stress jobs. But I focus on balance. I’m a fundamental believer in getting the right processes in place and the right people to execute. When that works, you have harmony.
My work with our Veterans Program brings me full circle. It’s important to me to help Cognizant better understand the nuances of hiring veterans. We bring discipline and commitment to our work that’s as valuable as practical experience.
Turning new ideas into impactful products
“I’m drawn to the problem-solving
aspect of product marketing. I love the
thought and rigor involved in
taking a product to market.”
When I graduated from Georgetown University, an advisor told me, “Go west: there’s this technology thing going on.” So I started a tech company, and I’ve worked in technology ever since.
Here at Cognizant, I began in the Cognizant Accelerator, where we incubated new practices, products, even business models for the company. In 2018, Cognizant tapped me to move from Portland, Oregon to London, where I later joined the marketing team.
In the Global Messaging and Portfolio Marketing team, we’re building a new function that’s two parts solution marketing, one part thought leadership and one part storytelling. Our growth is built on the amazing outcomes we’ve created for our clients, our culture and values, our continuous search for knowledge and a phenomenal and ever-growing portfolio of capabilities. It’s my team’s job to tell these stories–and empower our sales teams to share them.
It’s a perfect fit for me: the chance to build and operationalize something meaningful, to go from vision to reality. And the autonomy I have at Cognizant is ideal for working around a busy home life: my husband and I have two young boys, one with Down syndrome, which adds an invigorating dimension to life as an expat.
— Brian Humphries, Chief Executive Officer
As we look to tackle the thorny human issues ahead, we recognize that diversity and inclusion (D&I) remain chief among them. For our e-book we’ve assembled some of Cognizant’s keenest minds to share their thoughts on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the future of work from a variety of perspectives.READ MORE